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how to cook and enjoy this beautiful vegetable

When you know how to cook asparagus you will have a beautiful vegetable to include in your family meals. I assure you that this little vegetable will make a big impression on everyone.

There are two types of asparagus – the green asparagus, which is found everywhere in France, and the white variety. When buying it look at it carefully and make sure it is tender and not limp as this will not be fresh.

You will need about five spears of asparagus for each person.

When you know how to cook asparagus you have a vegetable that is not only tasty but very versatile. It is delicious eaten just as it is on its own either hot or cold.

If eaten hot, a sauce such as Hollandaise can be served with it or a lemon sauce, in fact, whatever you prefer. Another very easy and delicious method is to serve it with warm melted butter and a little salt and pepper.

To serve it cold, simply make a vinaigrette or French dressing, a mustard dressing or a good quality mayonnaise – so tasty.

·         To prepare the asparagus for cooking, first bend them until they snap; they will break at the divide between the tender shoots and the tougher stems near the root. Then simply trim the ends to make them all the same length – it looks better – and peel or scraped the white or green part to remove the little spines.

·         It does not matter if the spears are fat or thin but both must be peeled or scraped. The fat ones are easier to handle and there will be less waste with these as well.

·         A sharp knife is best for scraping them, in fact it is much better than using a vegetable peeler.

·         Once they are prepared, wash the spears in a bowl of cold water and drain them.

·         Take a few spears and tie them with string near the tip and near the butt end.

·         Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and place the asparagus in it then lower the heat and cook gently for about fifteen minutes until tender. You can test by inserting the sharp end of a knife into the butt end.

·         Drain them well.

·         If using frozen asparagus, simply allow to thaw a little before cooking and only use a small amount of water to which you have added a little salt and about a tablespoon of butter.

·         Cook for about 10 minutes or until tender.

There is another way....!

Chef Raymond Blanc – they don't come more French than he does – offers an alternative way of cooking asparagus, by a combination of blanching and griddling.

·         Prepare the asparagus spears as above, then blanche them in boiling water for just 3 minutes.

·         Remove and plunge them into a bowl of iced/cold water; this helps them to keep their colour.

·         Lie 5 spears side by side, and spear them with a wooded skewer, top and bottom, to keep them together.

·         Repeat this with the rest of the spears, then place on a hot griddle for 3 minutes on each side...that's plenty.

·         Remove skewers and serve immediately.